AN award-winning national training provider is celebrating a decade in business with the launch of a brand-new ‘green hub’ for employers and eco-conscious individuals, who want to rapidly reduce their carbon footprint.
Southampton-based Kiwi Education’s brand-new sustainability hub includes its ‘Green Skills Pathway’, designed to provide businesses and employees with support and free resources – to armour them with the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to create more sustainable practices.
The hub boasts three key stages to help those interested move towards their Net Zero aspirations. In it, Kiwi Education will continue to detail its own sustainability journey, with the aim of achieving Net Zero by 2025, which is the firm’s ‘main focus’ for its next decade of service.
It condenses industry knowledge and information into one handy resource, making it a one-stop-shop for employers looking to make serious changes to their business and is a testament to ten years of hard work, passion and dedication to making training accessible across a huge range of industries and sectors.
Kiwi Education has more than 40 staff working from Burlington House in Southampton City Centre, where they currently offer 17 apprenticeships and 20 short courses – as well as delivering traineeships. It’s a far cry from its launch in 2013 with just three months’ of founder Michael Steel’s salary – around £3,500 – with the business turning over more than £2 million last year.
According to Michael, who is also Kiwi Education’s managing director and sustainability champion, the green hub comes at a welcome time – especially as the ‘green’ business sector is only set to expand. Later this month the training provider will diversify its range of ‘green skills’ short courses and apprenticeships.
“As the number of green jobs continues to grow, so does people’s level of social awareness about how our actions impact the planet,” Michael says.
“It’s driving more people to question an organisation’s environmental performance, which is why businesses need to understand how their actions impact the planet and what they can do to help. Every workplace has a responsibility to their team and the world around them.”
The three-step Green Skills Pathway in the hub will help businesses and individuals become accountable for their output, find easy ways to decrease their environmental impact and make huge strides for the good of the planet.
Stage one asks businesses to nominate a sustainability champion. This follows in Michael’s footsteps, who recently spoke at the Green Skills Summit in Birmingham and is dedicated to “flying the flag” for green skills. As a spokesperson, he works closely with other experts to ensure Kiwi Education is doing all it can as a provider to tackle climate change – including travelling to Antarctica last month to see its impact up close.
Stage two is all about helping businesses measure their own environmental impact and unique carbon footprint, with advice on emission hotpots, waste reduction and even tips on engaging supply chains and employees alike. To put their knowledge into concrete action, Kiwi Education has detailed its own carbon action plan and encourages employers to use their resources to create their own.
Michael said: “We’ve been running for almost a decade and the next one is all about our aspirations to become a true green provider ourselves, and we want to continue on our journey while inspiring others to do the same.
“While we’ve already taken some steps to reduce our carbon footprint, we’re going to be ramping things up. Two of our team took part in a series of sustainability workshops as part of the Clean Growth Hub Net Zero 360 programme, where our current climate footprint was assessed. So far, we have moved all paperwork and documents online, become more conscious of water and energy usage, started sourcing refurbished and upgraded products like laptops instead of buying new, and are encouraging employees to work from home one day a week.
“In the next couple of years we’re going to be offering electric company pool cars and have charging points installed at our office, promote our cycle-to-work scheme, and undergo a rooftop beehive project. We’re forming a relationship with the Woodland Trust to have a tree planted in honour of each learner that comes on to any of our programmes and receives a paper certificate.”
The third and final stage of the Green Skills Pathway actively aims to promote green practices in the workplace and beyond. Kiwi Education has put together a handy sustainability toolkit for employers, and from the end of this month is diversifying its own range of green skills short courses and apprenticeships to ‘upskill’ businesses on all things sustainability.
From April 21st, it will become a provider of two National Open College Network (NOCN) courses, offering the awarding body’s Level 1 in Waste and Recycling and Level 1 in Energy Efficiency short courses.
It’s also launching two Level 4 apprenticeships – Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, and Community Energy Specialist. These will join the existing NCFE Climate Change and Environmental Awareness short course, which is made up of 110 guided-learning hours and aims to bring greater understanding of key issues surrounding climate change.
As part of their pledge to support other organisations and individuals as much as possible with their sustainability goals, Kiwi Education is offering this Level 2 certification for free to anyone who takes up an apprenticeship with them.
As well as actively fighting climate change and helping businesses offset their carbon emissions, Michael is passionate about using Kiwi as a tool for employees to retain the next generation of talent – especially those who are thinking about ‘climate quitting.’
“Keeping talent isn’t as simple as just increasing salaries,” he said. “Lots of factors make up the reason for someone leaving a job and now you can add ‘climate quitting’ to the list. This is known as the growing trend of people who are leaving their jobs to pursue a career focused on tackling climate change, or, because their employer’s ESG commitments aren’t solid.”
Kiwi Education has evolved rapidly and experienced serious growth, with Michael first starting out as a 19-year-old apprentice himself. He said: “I’ve been in the industry for 21 years, I was once an apprentice for a national training provider at an organisation that delivered apprenticeships and vocational training.
“I went to teach young, hard-to-help people and also worked for a disability organisation, assisting adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues get into employment – but I wanted to get back into apprenticeships one day.”
After some time off and resigning from his job of seven years at the Enham Trust in Hampshire, Michael went on to launch Kiwi. After setting up a number of partnerships and beginning as a subcontractor, he and two employees travelled the country looking for a college that shared visions, values – and would take a chance on them.
He found it in Hull College, with Kiwi Education going from strength-to-strength from there. The team moved into their own space in 2015 and finally hit ‘the big milestone’ last year with the purchase of their beautiful Grade II-listed office. Reflecting on the company’s success, Michael said: “I can’t believe how quickly 10 years have gone. It’s an incredible milestone for any business to reach and incredible for a training provider to do it.
“I think Kiwi Education is one of the last generation of true start-up businesses that expand to become a fully-fledged training provider. With Ofsted inspections, Department of Education audits, and the infrastructure and investment you’d need to be able to open and operate one is immense.
“To do it from scratch and initially setting it up in my living room – to turn that into the equivalent of a college is a difficult feat, so I’m extremely proud of where we are today. We’ve done huge amounts in the first 10 years but now it’s time to change, diversify, bring new people in to move up to the next level.”
With big plans for the next 10 years, such as the release of new courses, partnerships and even international delivery, Kiwi Education’s sustainability plans will be pulled into focus.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in